Events 2015-2016


The Lavrentiev phenomenon, function spaces and material defects, by Prof Sir John Ball, FRS

Tuesday 20th October, 6pm

The Lavrentiev phenomenon is the surprising fact that the minimum value (and minimizers) of problems of the calculus of variations can be different in different function spaces. This can occur even for the simplest one-dimensional problems. The Lavrentiev phenomenon occurs in various physical applications, in particular for some models of material defects, leading to the question of how the appropriate function space should be chosen. The talk will give examples of the phenomenon and discuss the philosophical issues it raises.

Small Mathematics for Big Data, by Dr Quentin Berthet

Tuesday 3rd November, 6pm

Recent changes in society and technology have brought forth everflowing sources of data. In order to navigate this stream and to make sense of it, statisticians have considered new models and paradigms. In this talk, I will present some aspects of this theory, and show how some simple mathematical ideas can be useful to tackle these problems.

Patience sorting, random growth, and the Kardar—Parisi—Zhang equation, by Dr Austen Lamacraft

Tuesday 17th November, 6pm

The past 15 years have seen remarkable progress in our understanding of certain models introduced by physicists to study randomly growing interfaces. These breakthroughs were built on seemingly unrelated developments in probability and combinatorics.

In this talk I’ll try and describe some of these developments, in as geometric a way as possible.

Understanding internal waves in the ocean using autonomous underwater gliders, by Dr Rob Hall

Tuesday 1st December, 6pm

Waves exist beneath the ocean’s surface as well as on it. These ‘internal’ waves are important dynamical features of ocean circulation because they create turbulence when they break and so determine where and when the ocean is mixed – with implications for the Earth’s climate. Observing these internal waves is tricky because their behaviour varies over many time- and length-scales. The recent development of autonomous underwater gliders may shed new light on the dynamics of these elusive waves.


Rendezvous Search Games, by Prof Richard Weber

Tuesday 26th January, 6pm

Two people take initial positions at random in some environment. How should they move about so as to minimize the expected time until they meet? There are some results that can be proved knowing only Probability IA, but others are extremely difficult. I will discuss some results, open problems and conjectures.

Pizza Night, by The Adams Society

Tuesday 9th February, 6pm

We are hosting a pizza night! This is event is free for Johnian mathmos – for everyone else, there will be a £2 fee to help us cover costs. As well as pizzas, we will be providing snacks, drinks and board games for you to play.

Universal Properties: A Categorical Look at Undergraduate Algebra and Topology, by Dr Julia Goedecke

Tuesday 23rd February, 6pm

In this talk, Dr Goedecke will discuss content from various first and second year undergraduate algebra and topology courses, but from a categorical perspective.

The slides for this talk can be found here (pdf).

Solitons: from canal boats to pseudospherical surfaces, by Dr Anthony Ashton

Tuesday 8th March, 6pm

Solitons are a very special type of solution to certain nonlinear, dispersive PDEs. They represent waves of permanent form and have some remarkable mathematical properties. In this talk I will discuss the history of the soliton and explore their relationship with the geometry of pseudospherical surfaces.


Annual Garden Party, by The Adams Society

Friday 10th June, 2:30pm

Join us in the St John’s Fellows’ Garden for food & drinks (including a BBQ, Pimms, snacks, and desserts…) at our last event of the year! Entry is free for members, and £1 for non-members.

About Us

The Adams Society is the mathematics society of St John’s college, Cambridge. We host numerous events each year including mathematical talks and socials.

More about events.


Free admission to all talks. Refreshments are served in the foyer before each talk.

Our talks usually take place in the Fisher Building, St John’s College.

Direction and map.


Get in touch through our committee members or email

Our committee members.

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